Vieques vs Culebra – Which Is Better For Tourists? (2024)

Vieques and Culebra are two of the most popular islands in Puerto Rico!

Both are known for their pristine beaches and laid-back atmosphere. 

However, for tourists looking to visit one of the islands, the question remains – which one is better? I’ve lived on the island 14 years and frequently visit both islands.

In this article, I will help you decide whether to visit Vieques or Culebra (or both).

What is Vieques and Culebra?
Is Vieques better than Culebra?
Which Island is cheaper?
Vieques vs Culebra – which is safer?
Vieques vs Culebra – which has better beaches?
Is Culebra or Vieques better for snorkeling?
Is there a ferry between Culebra and Vieques?
Frequently Asked Questions


What is Vieques and Culebra?

Vieques and Culebra are two of the most beautiful and unspoiled islands in the Caribbean Sea, offering visitors a chance to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. 

Vieques, the larger of the two islands, has a population of around 9,000 people and offers visitors a wide range of activities, including hiking, snorkeling, and horseback riding. 

Most famously, Vieques is known for being home to the world’s brightest bio bay, Mosquito Bay.

Vieques island is more populated than Culebra, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find secluded beaches and off the beaten path activities.

The island is home to the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge, which covers over 18,000 acres and is home to a variety of wildlife, including sea turtles, iguanas, and many species of birds.

Conversely, Culebra is a smaller and more secluded island that offers visitors a chance to get away from it all truly. 

image of Puerto Rico White sandy beach
Flamenco Beach in Culebra has been rated one of the world’s most beautiful beaches for many years in a row.

The island has just over 1,500 people and is known for its unspoiled beaches, crystal-clear waters, and laid-back atmosphere. 

Visitors can enjoy various activities on Culebra, including snorkeling, kayaking, and swimming with sea turtles. 

image of Sea turtles
Sea turtles are abundant in the waters surrounding Culebra, creating the perfect opportunity to snorkel with them.

Both Vieques and Culebra offer visitors a chance to experience the unique culture and natural beauty of the Caribbean. 

From hiking through lush forests to snorkeling in crystal-clear waters, there is something for everyone on these idyllic islands. 

Below is a video of someone comparing both islands:

Whether you’re looking for adventure or just want to relax and unwind, Vieques and Culebra are two of the best destinations in the Caribbean. 

So pack your bags and get ready for an unforgettable island getaway!

Read more about the islands in our tell-all guides to Vieques and Culebra.


Is Vieques better than Culebra?

If you’re looking for more bustling nightlife, Vieques might be your best bet, as the island has several bars and restaurants where you can enjoy live music and dance the night away. 

Culebra is more laid-back, with a small-town atmosphere and a focus on eco-tourism.

Both islands have a range of accommodations to suit all budgets, including hotels, guest houses, and vacation rentals. Many of these accommodations offer stunning ocean views and are within walking distance of the island’s main attractions.

image of a horse
Horses roam free around Vieques, creating an enchanting atmosphere for visitors that love animals and nature.

Vieques is perfect for adventure seekers looking to explore the island’s natural beauty through activities such as hiking, horseback riding, and even visiting the world’s brightest Bioluminescent Bay

image of 2 girls kayaking at Laguna Grande Bio Bay
Vieques is the home of the world’s brightest bio bay – Mosquito Bay.

This bay is a must-see attraction, where the water glows at night due to tiny organisms emitting light when agitated.

You can read all about the bio bays of Puerto Rico in our guide to Bioluminescent Bays – All You Need To Know.

Below is a video of the bioluminescent bay in Vieques:

Culebra is an excellent choice for those who want to relax and enjoy some of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean. 

image of tropical beach with palm tree
Flamenco Beach is easily accessible with a short bus ride after you get off the ferry in Culebra.

Flamenco Beach is the most popular beach on the island, with its white sand and crystal-clear waters.

Visitors can also explore the Culebra National Wildlife Refuge, home to many endangered species and exotic birds. 

image of a military tank of Flamenco beach
The old military tank that sits on Flamenco Beach serves as a reminder of the islands history and has become a popular photo destination.

The island is also known for its excellent snorkeling and diving spots, where visitors can swim with colorful fish, turtles, and other marine life.

Check out our guide to Flamenco Beach – All You Need To Know for more information.


Which Island is cheaper?

Regarding budget-friendly options, Culebra is the clear winner as it offers a great range of affordable accommodations, food, and activities. 

Visitors to Culebra can find plenty of budget hotels, guesthouses, hostels, and local restaurants offering delicious food at reasonable prices.

The island also offers many free or low-cost activities, such as hiking, beach combing, and snorkeling. 

image of Hotel Kokomo
Hotel Kokomo in Culebra is an affordable place to stay near the ferry.

Conversely, Vieques is known for being more expensive than Culebra, particularly in terms of accommodation. 

However, the island does offer a range of luxury resorts and high-end restaurants for those willing to spend more. 

image of Vieques Villa Gallega
Vieques offers a wider range of accommodations, from small AirBnBs to larger family vacation rentals.

Visitors to Vieques can also enjoy unique experiences such as taking a guided night tour of the bioluminescent bay or exploring the many historic sites on the island.

It’s worth noting that Vieques and Culebra can be expensive to visit, particularly during peak tourist season.

However, with some planning and research, visitors can find plenty of budget-friendly options to enjoy all these islands.

Find our favorite stays in our guides to Vieques – Where To Stay and Culebra – Where To Stay.


Vieques vs Culebra – which is safer? 

Both Vieques and Culebra are considered safe for tourists, with low crime rates and friendly locals. 

Visitors can feel comfortable exploring the islands on foot or by rental car and are unlikely to encounter any safety issues. 

However, as with any travel destination, it’s vital to take basic safety precautions such as keeping an eye on personal belongings and avoiding isolated areas at night.

image of city security
There is a police presence in both Vieques and Culebra but both destinations are safe and family friendly.

Vieques has had some issues with unexploded ordnance left over from the island’s use as a US Navy training ground. 

While the US Navy has made significant efforts to clean up the island, certain areas are still off-limits to visitors. 

It’s essential to follow all signs and warnings and avoid any areas marked as restricted. Visitors who stick to the designated areas should be perfectly safe on Vieques.

Overall, both Vieques and Culebra are safe and enjoyable destinations for tourists. These islands offer something for everyone with their natural beauty, welcoming locals, and range of activities.

Get more details in our articles about Safety On Vieques and Safety On Culebra.


Vieques vs Culebra – which has better beaches?

Regarding beaches, both Vieques and Culebra have something unique to offer.

Vieques boast a broader variety of beaches, each with distinct characteristics.

image of black sand beach
Vieques is home to a black sand beach, formed by volcanic activity on the island.

There are beaches with calm waters perfect for families with young children and beaches with solid surf ideal for adventurous water sports enthusiasts. Some of the most popular beaches on Vieques include Sun Bay Beach, Blue Beach, and Navio Beach.

image of Sun Bay beach
Sun Bay is the most popular and accessible beach on Vieques.

Culebra, on the other hand, is renowned for its pristine white sand beaches and crystal-clear waters. 

image of Playa Zoni beach
Playa Zoni beach, Culebra.

The island boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, including Flamenco Beach, Playa Tamarindo, and Zoni Beach. 

image of Tamarindo beach
Tamarindo beach, Culebra.

These beaches are perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and snorkeling, offering breathtaking views of turquoise waters.

Ultimately, which island has better beaches will depend on personal preference. 

Visitors who enjoy a variety of beach experiences may prefer Vieques, while those who are seeking picture-perfect beaches with crystal-clear waters may prefer Culebra. 

Regardless of which island visitors choose to explore, they will surely be impressed by the stunning natural beauty of these Caribbean destinations.

Pick your favorites in our guides to Vieques – 17 Best Beaches and Culebra – 12 Best Beaches.


Is Culebra or Vieques better for snorkeling?

Vieques and Culebra are excellent options for tourists looking to snorkel in the Caribbean. 

Vieques is home to several excellent snorkeling spots, including Blue Beach, Mosquito Pier, and Punta Arenas Beach.

image of La Chiva Beach 
La Chiva Beach on Vieques offers visitors excellent snorkeling.

These locations are known for their clear waters, abundant marine life, and underwater rock formations, creating a unique snorkeling experience.

Check out our 8 Best Snorkeling Spots In Vieques article for more details.

Culebra is also an excellent choice for snorkeling.

Carlos Rosario Beach, Tamarindo Beach, and Melones Beach are the best spots. 

image of Carlos Rosario Beach
Carlos Rosario Beach on Culebra is a top destination for snorkelers.

These locations are known for their crystal-clear waters, soft sandy bottoms, and abundant colorful fish and coral.

Check out our 9 Best Snorkel Spots on Culebra article for more information.

Those who prefer to explore underwater rock formations may prefer Vieques, while those seeking pristine beaches and crystal-clear waters may prefer Culebra. 

Regardless of which island tourists choose, they will indeed have an unforgettable experience exploring the Caribbean’s underwater world.


Is there a ferry between Culebra and Vieques?

Tourists looking to travel between Culebra and Vieques can take advantage of the ferry service operated by the Puerto Rico Transportation Authority. 

The ferry runs several times daily, providing a convenient and affordable option for tourists exploring both islands.

However, it’s worth noting that the ferry service can be unreliable, particularly during peak tourist season. 

Visitors can explore both islands in one day with the ferry between Culebra and Vieques.

The ferries can sometimes be delayed or canceled due to weather conditions, mechanical issues, or other unforeseen circumstances. 

As such, tourists should plan and be prepared for potential delays or cancellations.

One option for tourists who want to avoid the uncertainty of the ferry service is to take a private boat or charter. 

This option offers greater flexibility and can be tailored to the tourist’s specific needs and schedule. 

Regardless of which option tourists choose, they will surely enjoy Culebra and Vieques’ stunning natural beauty and unique experiences.


FAQ section

Which island is better for families?

Vieques and Culebra are great family options, with plenty of activities and attractions to entertain kids.

Which is easier to get around?

Both Vieques and Culebra are relatively small islands and are easy to get around.


Final thoughts

In conclusion, both Vieques and Culebra are great options for tourists looking to experience the beauty of the Caribbean. 

Ultimately, the better island depends on the tourist’s preferences and needs. 

Those looking for a broader range of activities and attractions may prefer Vieques. The most unique and popular activity in Vieques is the bioluminescent bay.

In contrast, those looking for a more laid-back vacation may choose Culebra. 

Regardless of which island tourists choose, they will have a memorable and relaxing vacation in Puerto Rico.

Check out our Culebra and Vieques guides to learn more about each island!

Vieques vs Culebra – Which Is Better For Tourists? (2024)
Article by

Miguel Concepcion

Writer at I’ve lived in Puerto Rico for 14 years and have experienced every inch of this stunning island. Growing up in Puerto Rico has helped me truly learn about the rich culture and extensive history this island has to offer. I share my local knowledge in all of the articles that I write.

About the author

Find the best things to do
by interest